When spring training was wrapping up in late March, I felt the St. Louis Cardinals one-two pitching punch of Chris Carpenter & Adam Wainwright along with Albert Pujols made them the favored team in the National League Central. The only weakness I saw was that they are injury prone and appear to have very little depth.
At the start of the season, here's how I saw the National League Central.
Team '09 Record '10 Predictions
St. Louis 91-71 93 - 96 wins
Chicago 83-78 85 - 88 wins
Cincinnati 78-84 82 - 86 wins (Most improved team in the division)
Milwaukee 80-82 73 - 76 wins
Houston 74-88 73 - 76 wins
Pittsburgh 62-99 60 - 63 wins
Best Players (by position)
Position Player Team
1B Pujols St. Louis
2B Phillips Cincinnati
3B Ramirez Chicago
SS Ryan St. Louis
LF Braun Milwaukee
CF Stubbs Cincinnati (Pittsburgh McCutchen is a close second)
RF Jones Pittsburgh
SP Carpenter St. Louis
Closer Hoffman Milwaukee (age may catch up to him)
I looked at the Cardinals as the No. 1 team in the National League, so I predicted them to win the Central. I noted to keep an eye on Cincinnati, as they are putting together a solid group of young players and are not far away from competing for the division title. I just did not realize that it may be this season and that Mike Leake would make such a big contribution.